A gang of thugs in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital on Tuesday went wild and started stripping women wearing trousers and miniskirts naked, saying they had President Bingu wa Mutharika’s consent to do so, police said.
Report says about 15 men were on Wednesday arrested for stripping the women. The women were in some cases stripped naked and groped.
Lilongwe police said they do not have the actual number of women who were attacked but said about three have reported to the police about the same. Riot police are patrolling the streets of Lilongwe to prevent further attacks.
The men were originally said to be vendors in the city center, but was later disputed as the police said the gang’s motive was to steal from women.
Lilongwe police spokesperson, Kingsley Dandaula said the men arrested will likely be charged with breach of peace and theft.
“We are not sure about the cause but we think the suspects were doing that with an aim of stealing from these women,” he said while dismissing reports that the vendors were reacting to President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s remarks on the issue of women dressing code.
Minister of Gender Reen Kachere condemned the acts and issued the warning that whosoever was found stripping women would be arrested.
“These vendors are just trying to create panic in this city so that they can steal from shops and women. Nobody has raised concern on the way women are dressing in the country,” she said.
The incident has brought wide condemnation from the public as people described the attacks as barbaric.
Malawi’s first president, the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda, banned women from wearing pants and mini-skirts. Men were forbidden from having long hair.
This ended when the dictator was ousted in 1994, but the country remains a little conservative.
Some women have decided to protest the attacks on Friday in Blantyre, the country’s commercial capital. Some have even threatened to strip off their clothes and protest naked if the attacks is not stopped.